Starting college can be extremely intimidating and nerve-wracking for all students. For transfer students, dealing with the switch from one college to the next adds to the stress of transitioning to Gonzaga. 

Not only do transfer students have to navigate all of the challenges that come with the freshman year experience, but they also have to try to break into already-formed friend groups and jump straight into upper-division classes alongside a cohort of returning GU students. 

Transfer students also have to navigate the proper transfer of credits from another institution and the sending of transcripts from a previous college. 

With all of the potential difficulties of the transfer experience considered, GU staff and administration were extremely helpful easing the stress of this challenging transition even before orientation began.

The simplicity of the initial transfer application process set the tone for what would prove to be a very easy and orderly transition to GU. 

Once admitted, GU has clearly-designated transfer specialist staff. Housing staff is available to match transfer students with students of their same year, and there are specific academic advisors for transfer students to help guide them through the process of choosing classes and transferring credits. 

Having this help prior to orientation eases a lot of stress and worry when arriving on campus.

When transfer students arrive at orientation, GU staff and students do their best to welcome all students, no matter their educational background. 

The one-day Transfer/Veteran/Returning Adult Student (TVRAS) Orientation was jam-packed with information and encouragement. The well-planned event was led by fellow TVRAS, who offered invaluable advice and personal anecdotes about their own unique GU experience. 

While the session was aimed toward all TVRAS, the majority of those who attended were incoming sophomores and juniors, making it a great place for second and third year transfer students to meet some new faces.

Staff members from multiple departments on campus came to talk during the session, providing information about the library, professional and career center, parking, TVRAS services, studying abroad, on-campus ministry and much more.

 In the afternoon, students were broken up into small groups based on their major and representatives from Academic Advising and Assistance came to answer any and all questions about schedules and how credits transferred. 

This personalized explanation helped to clear up academic worries that may have been plaguing transfer students.

While a lot of information was shared, the one message that truly stuck was that the staff were there for TVRAS's success and that each student taking this less conventional path to an undergraduate education was a priority to the GU community. Not only was this promise made in words, but it was relayed to students via action, including the multiple presenters who reinforced the validity and value of taking different educational paths. 

This message was also reinforced by President Thayne McCulloh, who hosted and spoke at a luncheon for TVRAS.

TVRAS orientation is an extremely important and helpful event to attend, specifically for any transfer students worrying about making friends or with concerns about academics at GU. Further, GU staff and students successfully put to rest the idea that a student not taking the traditional college path should be viewed as an outsider and affirmed that transfer students are an equally important part of the GU community. 

In fact, they expressed the importance of having people from all different backgrounds and educational paths to add diversity and depth to conversations on campus in and out of class.

Emily Goldberg is a contributor.

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